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MS Tips for Your Busy Life

Posted on July 08, 2016

Guest post by Misty Thompson PharmD, MBA, Clinical Pharmacist, CVS Specialty™ Pharmacy

It can be overwhelming to manage your MS treatment while juggling the hectic demands of everyday life. My colleagues and I – a team of pharmacists and nurses who specialize in multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment – see this common challenge all the time. We’ve also seen how others with MS have been able to create some balance and find a new normal, and we wanted to share some of the tips that have helped others manage their lives with MS. We hope you find these tips helpful, too.


Tip #1: If you have been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS and you’re not on a disease-modifying therapy (DMT), ask your neurologist if a DMT may be an option. DMTs can help reduce the number of flares and slow lesions from forming.

Stick with your MS treatment plan to get the most out of it.

Tip #2: Stick to your treatment plan. You get the most out of your treatment when you follow through the plan your neurologist prescribed. If you’re having a hard time keeping up with your treatment plan, work with your neurologist and other providers to develop a plan that works for you. Then use these tips to help you stay on track:

  • Take your MS medicine at the same time each day – setting a daily alarm on your phone is a good way to remind yourself and stay consistent. Many patients benefit from the free CVS Specialty mobile app (iTunes or Android stores) that provides reminders.
  • Get your medicines refilled on time so you don’t run out. Many pharmacies will send you reminders by phone, text or email. If you don’t have refill reminders set up, ask your pharmacy.
  • Talk to your neurologist, nurse or pharmacist if you think you are experiencing medication side effects.

Develop healthy lifestyle habits – a low-cost way to invest in your health.

Tip #3: Develop healthy lifestyle habits. Sometimes, you may still have MS symptoms and flares even if you take your medicine exactly as your doctor told you. (1) Another way you can help manage your MS is by leading a healthy lifestyle – including eating well, exercising regularly and getting rest. (2) It might take a bit of time, effort and planning to develop healthy habits, and big changes can be daunting. So start small – pick one new habit to grow each month. See below for some ideas that can help reduce MS flares and relieve symptoms: (2-5)

  • Rest. Fatigue is common in MS and is a side effect of some DMTs like beta-interferons. Rest often and try to plan your day and tasks around when you have the most energy. Getting a good night sleep can help your overall health and help your body to better fight off infections.
  • Stay cool. Some MS symptoms get worse as the body temperature rises. Avoid hot areas and look into tools like cooling scarves or vests.
  • Manage stress. Stress can trigger and make MS symptoms worse. Try yoga, massage or meditation. Joining support groups, seeing a counselor and staying connected to friends and family may also help reduce stress.
  • Avoid infections. Infections are thought to be one of the most common causes of MS flares. Avoid infections by getting a yearly flu shot, washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, and trying to avoid people who you know are sick.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Eating a healthy diet is good for your overall health. Some studies suggest a diet low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as those found in olive and fish oils) may be helpful. Other studies suggest that vitamin D may also be helpful.
  • Exercise. Exercise can help improve muscle strength, balance and coordination which all can be affected by MS. Swimming and water exercises are good options for heat-sensitive people. Yoga, walking and riding a bike are also good options. Work with your neurologist to create an exercise plan that’s right for you.
  • Talk about your feelings. Depression is a common symptom of MS and a side effect of some DMTs. Talk openly with your neurologist about your mood and share your feelings with family, friends and others living with MS. Anti-depressant medicines may help with depression and anxiety.


In general, don’t ignore new or worsening symptoms of MS. Call your neurologist right away. Your neurologist may prescribe medicines to help relieve or control your MS symptoms. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments, even if you feel fine.

Staying on track with your treatment and taking an active role in managing your MS can help keep your MS under control – so you can focus on living your life.

Misty is a clinical pharmacist for the CVS Specialty Multiple Sclerosis CareTeam. Our CareTeam is led by a dedicated team of pharmacists and nurses who are trained in MS.

Want to ask us a question? Call us ANYTIME at 1-800-237-2767 or visit CVSspecialty.com.


References

1. Adherence. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. No date. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Treating-MS/Medications/Adherence. Accessed May 25, 2016.
2. Wellness Discussion Guide for People with MS and Their Healthcare Providers. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Copyright 2016. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/NationalMSSociety/media/MSNationalFiles/Brochures/Brochure-Wellness-Discussion-Guide-for-ppl-wMS-and-HCPs.pdf. Accessed May 25, 2016.
3. Heat & Temperature Sensitivity. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. No date. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Health-Wellness/Heat-Temperature-Sensitivity. Accessed May 25, 2016.
4. Vaccination. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. No date. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Health-Wellness/Vaccinations. Accessed May 25, 2016.
5. Diet & Nutrition. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. No date. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Health-Wellness/Diet-Nutrition. Accessed May 25, 2016.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about this information and any health-related questions you have. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result of this information.

©2016 CVS Specialty. All rights reserved.

75-38738A 070616

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

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